WWEA Educational principles



  1. WWEA Kaupapa/Purpose.

The aims of the Wellington Workers Educational Association are outlined in its constitution (updated at the 2016 AGM) but the principle aim is the advancement, encouragement and provision of continuing and community education of adults that promotes a just and more equitable society which takes account of the Treaty of Waitangi as the founding document of Aotearoa New Zealand.

  1. The WWEA programme group.

The WWEA programme group is an informal collective of WWEA members who volunteer to make arrangements for the educational programme of the WWEA. The 2018 programme group are committed to building a strong, progressive programme based on principles of popular education and critical education. We want to create a programme that convenes events conducted in the spirit of participation, democratic dialogue and debate.  We believe that workers’ education is education for social justice and social change. It is education designed to change minds, and to transform the world. Workers’ education is not just about the content of educational sessions, it is also about the process of learning: a process that should engage and empower workers.

  1. Key principles of workers’ education.

3.1 Grounded in reality: it encourages workers to reflect on their experience of the social world and to use new knowledge to make sense of exploitation, oppression and discrimination. It helps to connect workers’ lived experience of the world with wider social, structural and systemic issues.

3.2 Questioning: workers’ education encourages workers to pose questions, solve problems, and to think for themselves rather than to absorb received wisdom.

3.3 Theory & practicethe process of workers education recognises the relationship between theory and practice or action. Workers education commonly uses theory and reflection to answer the question: what is to be done? And action then feeds back into the learning through the process of critical reflection.

3.4 Co-operation & co-production: workers’ education strives towards equal relationships between individuals involved in the learning process. It values the contributions, experiences and abilities of all and recognises workers as active participants and co-producers in the process of learning. This idea resonates with the te ao Māori concept of Ako (meaning both to teach and to learn) where relationships between teachers and learners are viewed as reciprocal.

3.5 Creative and participatory methods: workers’ education does not devalue traditional, lecture style contributions if relevant to the learning process. However, effective workers’ education encourages conversation, discussion, reflection, experimentation and play. We value all methods that involve and recognise the agency of workers.

  1. Convening educational sessions.

Normally, an educational session will include a WWEA Convenor, one or more contributors and a number of worker participants. At the reading group there will be a Convenor but all reading group members participate equally. The task of the Convenor is to ensure each event is conducted in a comradely fashion and in a way that adheres to the principles above, ensuring open, democratic dialogue and debate.

At educational sessions led by one or more contributors, their task is to create opportunities for workers’ education by using any one of a number of learning activities (talk, group discussion, activities, Q&A etc). Contributors should discuss their session plan with the Convenor in advance of the session and confirm how it will integrate the principles described above.

  1. Comradely behaviour.

The Association is committed to conducting meetings in a comradely fashion. The term comrade in the context of workers’ education is used to connote equality, respect and discipline. We urge comrades to show solidarity with each other and to work in ways that are respectful with regard to people, disciplined with respect of time and considerate of the material resources used. Examples of uncomradely behaviour are, for example: introducing topics that are not the focus of the session (without the prior agreement of the Convenor); or behaving in ways that are oppressive, dominating or discriminatory to others.

All participants are responsible for ensuring the good conduct of meetings. However, if necessary, the Convenor may issue a warning to an individual behaving in an uncomradely fashion, and the individual given an opportunity to change their behaviour. If inappropriate behaviour continues, the Convenor may ask the person to leave the meeting. Any disciplinary decision made by a Convenor can be reviewed at a subsequent meeting of the WWEA programme group.

This document will be subject to critical reflection as our programme unfolds and may be revised and updated by the WWEA programme group at any time.

Adopted October 2018